I did not know how much leadership is a skill that needs to be learned, until I attended Primary Care Progress (PCP) National’s Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit, a leadership retreat for team leaders of local PCP teams across the nation. Members from 50+ health professional schools came together in Minneapolis, MN to attend the leadership Summit. One of the goals of PCP National is to build effective interprofessional student teams at health professional schools across the country that can carry out healthy primary care practices in their community, promote interprofessional awareness at their schools, and ignite a nationwide movement towards promoting primary care, by making primary care workers effective leaders. A leader who simply delegates tasks can only achieve short, small-scale goals; however, it is when one is able to unite all members of a team under a common vision and passion that results in large-scale, effective change. At the Summit, I learned some powerful tools that make up the latter type of leader.
Firstly, I learned the power of sharing stories. When I share my experiences of how I became passionate about interprofessional care and listen to my teammates share their experiences, I feel more connected and more invested to work together with them to achieve a passion we both share. We all got the chance to share our story in small groups for 3 minutes each.
Secondly, I learned the power of one-to-ones in recruiting members. Instead of contacting masses of people and bribing them to team meetings with free food, a more sustainable way of recruiting invested team members is to see who has values that are genuinely in line with the core values of the team. At the Summit, we learned to use skills of asking open-ended questions, being a good listener, and assessing if someone really will enjoy being a part of your team. Quality, and not quantity, of a team is the worthier long-term investment. We practiced having 7-minute one-to-ones.
Finally, I learned how to hold effective brainstorming sessions. There are two methods of brainstorming: divergent and convergent. In divergent brainstorming, the sky is the limit – it involves a nonjudgmental session where everyone shouts out any idea/solution they can think of pertaining to the problem at hand, and no one can comment or offer opinion on anyone’s ideas. This is followed by convergent brainstorming, where members choose feasible criteria that the idea must have, such as cost, time, audience reached, and long-term impact. All ideas are categorized, rated, and voted upon until one comes out on top. My team of six was able to hold a mock brainstorming session in 30 minutes.
It is easy to say that we do not have the time to sit down and talk with others about our beliefs and values, but this weekend showed me that these few minutes can go a long way. Seeing all of us from 50+ health professional schools (including medicine, dental, pharmacy, public health, physical therapy, nursing, and more) from across the nation taking the time to gather together in one hotel room in Minneapolis, MN was proof of this. Being an effective leader is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced, but a little investment is a worthy one. The MAA’s support in making this trip possible will undoubtedly go a very long way.